Funny or Die Parody on Absence Labeling and Fear-Based Marketing

Funny or Die teamed up with Peel Back the Label to show how some companies might be fudging the truth about your food.  This hilarious skit makes light fun of absence labeling and fear-based marketing in particular around dairy products, which is a problem that has created mass confusion for consumers. 

In this video skit, George, who plays the role of an executive at a dairy company is discussing his lack of sales to Marty, who plays the role of a marketing executive.  Marty comes up with the idea of labeling George’s milk as ‘GMO-Free’, and George responds, “But all milk is GMO-Free”.  Marty then takes the stance that, “You know it, and I know it, but no one else does [… so we will] simply bombard the consumer with meaningless claims until they are too confused and frustrated to make an informed decision,” ultimately leading to profit.



So what is absence labeling and fear-based marketing?  Essentially absence labeling is when marketers state what is not in their product vs. what is in their product.  Absence labeling is a form of fear-based marketing as it’s goal is to scare consumers into choosing their brand as opposed to a competitors brand.  The goal is to make consumers believe that, “Well, since this brand’s product doesn’t have all of these things (claims to be antibiotic free, GMO-free, hormone free and gluten-free, for example), another brand’s product must have these things, and therefore the first brand is the better choice”.  

We would like to take a moment to help set the record straight on some of these absence labeling claims and fear-based marketing techniques because we believe that consumers deserve truth and transparency in food marketing – not slights of hand or selective facts in the name of sales:

  1. ALL milk is naturally GMO free.  Regardless of the type of feed cows consume – be it GM or non-GM – the science clearly shows that it has NO impact on the milk they produce.  Those who use GMO free in their dairy labeling are ignoring the science in an effort to drive market sales by capitalizing on consumer misinformation regarding GMOs. 
  2. ALL milk is antibiotic free.  If a dairy cow gets sick on a conventional farm, it will be given antibiotics as treatment until it gets all better. However, the antibiotics do not end up in the milk supply. Rather, treated dairy cows are kept separate until the proper withdrawal time has expired.  We know this because every farm sample on every milk tanker is tested at every processing plan in the US for antibiotics, and if the milk does not pass antibiotic testing, the entire truck load of milk is discarded and the farm samples are tested to find the source of the antibiotic residues. Regulatory action is taken against the farm with the positive antibiotic test and in addition, that farm is then required to pay for the entire load.  For more information, check out this video: Straight Talk with a Dairy Vet: Antibiotics.
  3. ALL milk is naturally gluten-free.  Gluten is a protein composite found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). From a medical standpoint, a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease.  With regards to dairy, the good news is that all dairy products are naturally gluten-free.  That being said, some cheese spreads or ice cream may have flavorings or additives that contain gluten.
  4. ALL milk, including organic, naturally contain very small amounts of naturally occurring hormones.  Hormones occur in every living animal, be it a human or a cow, and therefore all animal products contain trace amounts of naturally occurring hormones measured in parts per billion.  These trace amounts of naturally occurring hormones are broken down by the human body when consumers drink milk, and those trace amounts of naturally occurring hormones are not absorbed into the human body.  For more information, check out this video: Hormones in Milk: The Truth (and Myth).  
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